Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas plans, and Police strike in Argentina

Dec. 16, 2013

Dear Family,
Cambios (transfers) came!  I am staying here in Barrio Libertador (Liberator Ward), for a third transfer with Elder Vasquez!!  It will be cool to have Christmas with somebody who has a Christmas tree up year round.  

The members are awesome here.  Familia Arsola has invited us for Christmas Eve dinner.  The mother and father both served missions, and they wanted to have the missionaries over for Christmas Eve because their 3 kids all left the house within a period of 3 months.  Their 2 returned missionaries got married with other returned missionaries, and the other kid left for the mission.  (a very mission oriented family, especially here in Chile)  It will be their first Christmas without their children, so we will be happy to be there.

Thank you for all the birthday wishes.  You guys are awesome.  My testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon has grown a ton lately.  I am excited to Skype with you all.  

I love you more than the number of electrons that made this email possible.
Elder Withers

Dear Family,
Sorry to hear you are all freezing......on the flip side of the equator we are melting, crazy to see such a drastic difference in climate!  

This week was an adventure!  I think I say that every week, but this time it really was.  On Monday, the police all went on strike.  In some towns the police kept on with business as usual...but here in La Paz they went on strike.  So the day was a little interesting.  More than anything the day just felt eerie....EVERYTHING was closed and shut down (more locked up than in the middle of the siesta!)  And in the evening we were going to go out and work like normal, but we made it about a block from our apartment and both felt very strongly to go back and stay for the night.  It felt weird and in a way disobedient to be in the pension (apartment) so early in the evening, but it was the right thing to do.  We stayed there reading our scriptures, listening to hymns, and just trying to pass the time quickly.  In the end, nothing dangerous or super dramatic was just one of those things where the Spirit told us to go back so we did.  I didn’t know why then and I don’t think I will ever know, but it was right and I am so grateful for the Spirit.  Later that evening we got a call from the zone leaders with a message from President that all missionaries are to be in their apartments before dark.  Which for us means around  8pm.  It cuts about an hour and a half from our work time each night, and it’s weird having so much time in the evenings.....but until President says otherwise, we will keep doing it.  I have learned that obedience will always bring more blessings than impressive numbers.  

On Wednesday we had our Christmas party in Santa Fe with all of the other missionaries from the northern half of the mission.  And it was soooo fun!  We watched the First Presidency Christmas devotional, had an absolute feast of some kind of food but I have no idea what it was, and got a gift from President and his wife (a mission flag and a candy cane).  It was fun to see Hispanic missionaries who didn’t know what a candy cane was.  There were slideshows with pictures, skits, Christmas music, visiting, and just lots of fun.  When the day was over, I think we were all in denial that we had to go back to reality.  

And summer has officially started!  We are finally to the point where the heat and humidity are about as hot as it will get.  There will be some days that are worse, but we have finally hit the "normal".  No more of the locals saying horrible things like, "oh it’s going to get sooo much worse, get ready"....we are finally to the "worst" and it’s pretty hot, but not so bad as I let my imagination think it could get.  It’s hot and sticky, but it’s bearable.  I think when the people were telling us to be ready; I let my imagination fantasize it being so hot that you couldn’t even walk.  Maybe I am finally adjusting?  Who knows, but I think I might make it out of this summer just fine!  

I am not going to have P Day on Monday because President changed it to be on Wednesday for Christmas day.  

 I gave my first talk as a missionary in Sacrament meeting....and it was great!  I talked about Christ and serving him during this Christmas season by serving others.  And serving Christ by sharing our testimonies with others!  The whole having to talk in Spanish thing really helps me slow down when talking in front of people, so that is good too.

I love you more than all the bites of food I eat at lunch appointments even after I am demasiado (completely) full.

Hermana Withers

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